By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 12/20/19
Wastewater Line Maintenance Crew Leader, Albert Barela, just discovered more concrete under the pavement on Griggs Street. Fixing a pipe is going to take a bit more work than anticipated, but that’s all in a day’s work for Barela. It’s nothing he hasn’t seen before in his 24 years with Las Cruces Utilities (LCU).
He remembers starting his City career at age 20, not even old enough to grab a drink with the rest of the crew at the end of a long day. “It’s like I grew up while I was on the job.”
Born and raised in Las Cruces, Barela has friends and family call out to him while he works on the streets fixing sewer lines and helping citizens get their sewer lines up and running into the system. “People don’t realize how crucial it is to have a working sewer system… until they don’t,” he said. “It’s just one of those things we don’t think about.”
Barela feels a responsibility to serve the city in which he’s grown up, even though he’ll be retiring in 8 months. “It’s a good, solid job. It’s been my career. The years have flown by, and for me it was worth it to come into work every day. Now I receive the benefits and the retirement,” he said.
Like Barela, who didn’t have a background in utilities when he started, new hires to LCU can be trained on the job with this City department. For those who might have a specific interest in water, a Water Technology degree at Doña Ana Community College is a great place to start.
On one hand, Barela is looking forward to retiring, but on the other, it’ll be like leaving home. He said, “Our current crew works really well together, and our supervisor really makes us feel like a family, like we’re all in it together so we can get the jobs done.”
Check out Utilities jobs at www.las-cruces.org. In the search box type in JOBS to see the list and descriptions of job openings in Las Cruces under “City Job Opportunities.”
You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: LCU Wastewater Line Maintenance Crew Leader, Albert Barela, started to dig up Griggs Street to fix a sewer line and saw another layer of concrete. Things like this makes every day a new challenge, one that he’s seen plenty of in his 24 years with Utilities. Long-term careers like his are available at LCU.